What a tourist saw on a trip to New York in 1970

In March 1970, a traveler now living in Rotterdam paid a visit to New York City.

Jaap Breedveld was in his 40s at the time. Like many tourists, he took photos that reflect the typical itinerary of a sightseer from overseas, like Times Square (above, with the old Howard Johnson’s at 46th Street on the left).

But Breedveld also captured images of New Yorkers at work, like this pretzel vendor on an unknown street, above. (Were pretzel carts really so low-key in 1970?)

During a foray into Chinatown, Breedveld immortalized these two men slicing fish on a barrel.

His photos also reflect a changed cityscape. In this image above, the Chrysler Building dominates the skyline, as it does today.

But Roosevelt Island—in 1970, still officially Welfare Island—has yet to be developed into a residential enclave, and the tramway wouldn’t start operating until 1976.

Midnight Cowboy fans will recognize the lovely Beaux-Arts building on the left in this image of Times Square.

It’s the Hotel Claridge, where Joe Buck gets a room after he arrives in New York. Opened in 1911 as luxury accommodations, the old hotel was torn down in 1972 to make way for an office building.

This photo appears to be taken from Battery Park and looks toward State Street; that must be the Elizabeth Ann Seton shrine and James Watson House in the center.

Today, the shrine and 18th century house are surrounded by boxy towers, one of which is going up in the photo.

This breathtaking view of Lower Manhattan contains no Twin Towers, and no Battery Park City. Both would be on maps by the end of the decade.

[Breedveld shared these previously unpublished images with Ephemeral New York. Special thanks to Peter van Wijk. ©Jaap Breedveld]

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10 Responses to “What a tourist saw on a trip to New York in 1970”

  1. Penelope Bianchi Says:

    Fascinating! I lived in New York City from August 1969 to April 1970! And this is exactly what it was like. Amazing. Thank you!
    I was from Southern California and could not adapt. I cried every night, pregnant with my first and only child.
    It is my very favorite place to visit…..and i adore it. I had to go back to Southern California to live.
    I love your photos and stories. So many fascinating stories about all the fascinating places. Thank you!!

  2. Carolyn Lalli Says:

    I worked in NYC from 1968 -86 and these photos are like a trip down memory lane. The pretzel carts were indeed like that, probably fashioned from galvanized metal in the owner’s garage.In winter, the same style cart, with warming kettle, was used to sell hot chestnuts.

    Thank you for your weekly posts. Each article is carefully researched and presented in such an enticing manner. I especially enjoy it when you include links to previous ones.

  3. What a tourist saw on a trip to New York in 1970 — Ephemeral New York – Naked Cities Journal Says:

    […] via What a tourist saw on a trip to New York in 1970 — Ephemeral New York […]

  4. Gregg Rutana Says:

    Thnks !

  5. Pink Panther Says:

    I was there for the first time in 1975. I remember going up with friends to the observation deck of the Empire State Building as the sun was setting, a west wind was blowing t he lights of the city started to spread. it was pure magic!

  6. Pink Panther Says:

    the next best memory was flying low over Mahanttan twice with a window seat on a bright sunny day waiting to land at LaGuardia. More magic!

  7. W.B. Says:

    From what I gathered, it was in 1970 that the Claridge and the accompanying building were demolished (scaffolding was put up to prepare it for same); 1972 was when the new office building at 1500 Broadway first opened for business. Photos taken in that area at the end of ’70 show a vacant lot where the Claridge had been; pics snapped in 1971 show the new building beginning to take shape.

    As for that place of 43rd and Broadway, I seem to remember it named ZOTOS.

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